Once a rival player, Jeremy Schocken is hoping to lead a turnaround for the Westerville Central High School boys lacrosse team.
Schocken, who was a four-year starter at goalkeeper for Westerville North, has replaced Stefan Schroder as the Warhawks' coach after being an assistant last season. Schroder stepped down after two seasons to accept a position with Resolute Lacrosse in Cincinnati.
Schocken is a 2012 graduate of North. He was second-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division as a senior.
"It's poetic because I grew up in Westerville and I played lacrosse at North and to be the head coach here at Central is really awesome," Schocken said after his first career win, a 10-9 victory over Pickerington North on March 20. "To get the win out of the way is big, a weight off the shoulder.
"For me, it's less about us (versus Westerville North) and more (about) growing this sport as a whole. I put my personal pride aside being a North player, growing up hating Central, but to come and be a part (of) helping Westerville lacrosse grow and expand, that's what I'm here for."
Last season, the Warhawks finished 6-13 overall and went 3-4 in the OCC-Buckeye to place fifth behind champion Olentangy Liberty (7-0).
Central opened with a 7-4 loss at Gahanna on March 17 but bounced back to defeat visiting Pickerington North. The Warhawks then lost at Dublin Jerome 15-6 on March 22 before again rebounding to win at Beavercreek 8-7 on March 26.
The Warhawks open league play April 5 against Olentangy Orange.
Senior midfielder Jax Looby said it's been a smooth transition with Schocken moving into his new role and the team expects to have success this season.
"It was a good win (against Pickerington North)," Looby said. "I think we owed it to (Schocken) because he works so hard trying to get the team together. It was good for everyone. It helped us a lot getting a head coach that already knew the guys and had some chemistry with us."
Junior attacker Dawson Kindall scored five goals, and senior attacker Mikey Doud and Looby each had two goals.
"Our offense had a lot more patience, so you have to love to see that," Schocken said. "Our attack helped carry our offense. They made very smart decisions with the ball. They were unselfish. They relied on the guy next to them to do their job."
Senior goalie Brandon Farley had 21 saves, including one from close range in the final seconds to preserve the win. He will split time in goal this season with junior Nick DeRose.
Other players include seniors Mitchell Bury (attacker), Logan Clapham, (midfielder), Ryan Clapham (defender), Ryan Hallinan (defender/midfielder), Jackson Horlocker (midfielder), Collin Kelly (midfielder), Brandon Kohler (defender), Dom Letterio (defender), Nathan Linden (defender), Ian Manahan (midfielder), Matt Pasi (midfielder), Jake Secrest (defender), Henry Snyder (attacker) and Eli Whitehair (defender), juniors Connor Burtner (defender), Johnny Gentil (attacker/midfielder), Avery Kuhr (attacker) and Zach Rush (defender), sophomores Jeremy Gellner (defender), Heath Jeffers (midfielder), Jack Lammert (midfielder), Ryan Murnane (midfielder) and Lance Wyatt (defender) and freshman Jake Schorling (midfielder).
"I want to go above .500 because that's something we weren't able to achieve last season," Schocken said. "I want to win a playoff game."
Girls lacrosse team under new leadership
The girls lacrosse team also has a new coach as Cara Hernandez has replaced Fred Stratmann, who stepped down after two seasons.
Hernandez played lacrosse at New Albany and is a 2010 graduate.
Central opened with losses to Watterson (12-9 on March 19) and Gahanna (13-8 on March 22) before defeating Delaware 10-9 on March 24.
"It's a day-to-day thing," Hernandez said. "We're working. We have a lot of freshman girls this year and girls who have never played, so we're really looking to build from the ground up, really focusing on our fundamentals and once we're able to lock down on our fundamentals, start getting into more complex things."
The Warhawks open OCC-Buckeye play April 5 at Orange.
Last season, Central finished 7-11 overall and went 3-4 in the league to place fifth behind champion New Albany (7-0).
Senior defender/midfielder Erin Potts was second-team all-league last season. Junior midfielder Sophie Misiuk had 31 goals and nine assists, senior attacker Bella Fantine had 29 goals and nine assists and sophomore goalie Rachel Kidd had 119 saves.
"Rachel has been key for us," Hernandez said. "She's come up with some big saves."
Also back are seniors Nicole Teeples (midfielder/defender) and Julia Walker (defender), juniors Leah Sharifi (midfielder) and Sienna Szymanski (attacker) and sophomore Lucy West (midfielder/de-fender).
Other players are juniors Aubrey Julian (attacker/midfielder) and Janelle Wolfe (attacker) and freshmen Katy Alvarado (goalie), Emma Fantine (midfielder/attacker), Lauren Manton (midfielder), Kaitlyn McBride (midfielder), Nina Domanik (midfielder/defender), Jenna Pallaci (midfielder) and Meili Tanzillo (midfielder).
"We want a winning record," Hernandez said. "We have the talent, we have older girls, but we have so many younger girls, so we're trying to find a good balance in how to incorporate the younger girls to make an impact on the team."
Barrett steps down as boys basketball coach
Donovon Barrett stepped down as boys basketball coach March 22 to accept the same position at Olentangy Berlin, pending school board approval.
Under Barrett, the Warhawks went 52-66 in five seasons and won an OCC-Cardinal title in 2013-14. He was at Buckeye Valley for 14 seasons before that, compiling a 193-99 record and winning seven Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference titles.
"I was happy at Central and the administration and teaching staff were great and there are a lot of good character kids in the program," said Barrett, who will teach social studies at Berlin. "To go to Berlin, a lot of variables had to be just right. I go back some 25 years with (athletics director) John Betz, and Berlin (principal) Todd Spinner was my principal at Central for a while. It was a win-win situation."
Barrett also will no longer coach the Central girls tennis team after 13 seasons, according to athletics director Andy Ey.
Berlin opens in the fall.